THE GREAT AND THE GOOD

The Bri­tish Ex-box­ers’ Hall of Fame event at­tracts some for­mer world cham­pi­ons

Boxing News - - Yesterday's Heroes - EBA cor­re­spon­dent Si­mon Euan-smith

THIS year’s Bri­tish Ex-box­ers’ Hall of Fame event was held at the Premier Suite, Can­nock, on Sun­day Septem­ber 15, and hosted by the Cen­tral Ex-box­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. Again, it was a great suc­cess.

“We did our best,” CEBA Sec­re­tary Paul Nutting said mod­estly. “We tried to en­sure that guests had an en­joy­able af­ter­noon, be­ing en­ter­tained by a singer and ta­ble ma­gi­cian, as well as giv­ing all guests a com­mem­o­ra­tive EBA Hall of Fame badge as a me­mento of the oc­ca­sion. We had guests from Amer­ica and Dubai, as well as from all over the UK. The ca­ma­raderie that ex­ists within the ex-box­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions was very much in ev­i­dence on the day. Hope­fully this event will go from strength to strength over the years. Good luck to Es­sex EBA for next year’s event.”

I was de­lighted that three of the in­ductees (in the Life­time Ser­vice to Box­ing category) are prom­i­nent EBA of­fi­cers – Leeds Pres­i­dent Al­lan Richard­son, Lon­don Chair­man Char­lie Wright and Le­ices­ter Pres­i­dent and Chair­man Mick Greaves. I spoke to Char­lie and Mick af­ter­wards, and they con­firmed they had a great time.

“I was hon­oured and de­lighted,” Mick said. “Four­teen of us went from Le­ices­ter, and we all en­joyed it very much. The place and the peo­ple were amaz­ing, and I was as­ton­ished how many peo­ple were there. There were lots of fight­ers, in­clud­ing a lot of younger ones. That’s so en­cour­ag­ing.”

Among those present were for­mer world ti­tle-hold­ers Ray Mancini, EX-WBA light­weight ti­tlist from Ohio; John H. Stracey, Beth­nal Green’s for­mer WBC wel­ter king; and John Con­teh, Liver­pool’s pre­vi­ous WBC light-heavy­weight ruler.

“I spoke to Mancini – he was ter­rific,” Mick said. “Very friendly. And Con­teh was very ami­able, too – very ap­proach­able. And that makes it bet­ter for ev­ery­one else. Some so-called sports stars are so stand­off­ish, but box­ers take the at­ti­tude ‘We’re all the same.’ You never get the ‘us and them’ sce­nario.”

My good friend Char­lie Wright said he was “hon­oured” to be in­ducted. “Lon­don took three ta­bles,” he said. “I was well sup­ported by both Lon­don and Es­sex. John Con­teh made a point of con­grat­u­lat­ing me, and in­sisted we had a pic­ture taken to­gether – two Scousers!”

Char­lie also gave me the good news that there was a healthy con­tin­gent from Scot­land, to ap­plaud the late Benny Lynch’s in­duc­tion in the Post­hu­mous category. Benny, one of Scot­land’s best-

ever fight­ers, was recog­nised as world fly­weight cham­pion be­tween 1935 and 1938. His death at 33, rav­aged by al­co­hol, was a tragedy. But he de­serves to be revered for his ring achieve­ments – and I un­der­stand that the Scot­tish EBA are plan­ning to have a statue put up for him. It’s an hon­our he de­serves – and I’ll hap­pily pub­lish more news when I get it.

The cur­rent Scot­tish EBA news­let­ter in­cludes an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle on an­other fine fly­weight – Elky Clark. Clark won Bri­tish, Em­pire and Euro­pean hon­ours – un­like Lynch he couldn’t make it to the very top, los­ing on points to Fidel Labarba in a world ti­tle chal­lenge. But (again, un­like Lynch) Clark kept his money and his health. Af­ter re­tir­ing he ran a pub in Glas­gow called the Lons­dale Bar, then be­came a suc­cess­ful box­ing writer with the

I like the mes­sage in the SEBA news­let­ter – “Am­a­teur or pro­fes­sional box­ers and very im­por­tant box­ing fans – we would be pleased to wel­come you to SEBA.” As I’ve said be­fore, you don’t have to have boxed to be­long to an EBA. If you love the sport, se­ri­ously con­sider join­ing your lo­cal EBA.

Some­one who re­cently did just that was Tommy Neild, a box­ing fan from Manch­ester. To quote the cur­rent MEBA news­let­ter: “A big wel­come to a new mem­ber – Tommy.”

The news­let­ter also has an ar­ti­cle on Dewey Bozella, whose pro log read one bout, one win. What’s so re­mark­able about that? He didn’t box pro­fes­sion­ally un­til he was 52! It’s quite a story!

Photo: USA TO­DAY SPORTS

GOOD IM­PRES­SION: Mancini – erce in the ring but friendly out of it

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